Vegan movement strength shown by backlash

| 1st April 2019
Backlash against veganism serves only to demonstrate the progress that has been made.

Whatever happens – veganism as a mainstream lifestyle choice is here to stay. It’s impossible to say how long the growth will continue or whether we are close to a high-water mark, but its visibility will not diminish.

It might seem bizarre that personal lifestyle choices driven compassion and environmental consciousness could outrage people to the point of protest – but that is exactly what is happening as veganism continues its march into the mainstream.

Visitors to the recent VegFest event in Brighton were greeted by the site of Youtuber Sv3rige gnawing on a raw pigs head and claiming that veganism is ‘human cruelty.’

This could be easy for vegans and non-vegans alike to dismiss as a somewhat grotesque act of trolling pulled by a self-publicist – but the very existence of such stunts shows how far veganism has come.

Striking a chord

In 2019, veganism is inescapable. From Piers Morgan kicking up a fuss about vegan sausage rolls to almost constant news about restaurants and cafes expanding their ranges – the growth of the movement in recent years has reached fever pitch.

As a vegetarian since my teens and vegan since early 2018 – I see the growth as both logical and timely. There are so many reasons someone may choose to opt-out of consuming all animal products – be it ending cruelty, tackling the climate change impact of animal agriculture or anti-biotic resistance to name but a few.

A lifestyle choice that was once seen as a fringe and frankly a bit weird is striking a chord in a time when people are making the links between the key environmental and social issues of the day.

While the antics of Sv3rige are childish and easily dismissed, they demonstrate the visceral reaction some people have to veganism. The movement challenges the assumptions that people make about the need to consume animal products and forces them to consider the numerous negative impacts of the meat industry.

Personally, I don’t see going vegan as a panacea. Climate change and other key environmental issues require structural solutions but veganism is one of the simplest ways of reducing the negative impacts of our consumption.

It’s a straightforward lifestyle choice based in compassion and environmentalism. It can also be really healthy if you don’t get too excited by the ever-expanding ranges of vegan junk food available!

Here to stay

I’m no vegan-purist. While I choose to eschew all animal products, I do see it as a good thing if people decide to reduce meat consumption or go vegetarian – both of which can of course be first steps on the road to becoming a vegan.

Whatever happens – veganism as a mainstream lifestyle choice is here to stay. It’s impossible to say how long the growth will continue or whether we are close to a high-water mark, but its visibility will not diminish. We’re likely to see more examples of anti-vegan vegan outrage like those of Piers Morgan and Sv3rige.

For vegans, witnessing the mockery piled on Piers Morgan for his absurd reaction to a sausage roll or the recent pigs head stunt show the impact that veganism is having. In 2019, the vegan isn’t the fringe odd-ball that people can’t fathom – it’s the man chomping on a raw pig’s head and claiming the compassionate actions of others are ‘human cruelty.’

For me, veganism will always be one part of a puzzle. It’s my way of limiting the negative impact that I have on the creatures that we share the earth with and reducing my own environmental impact – which sits alongside taking action for progressive structural change.

This Author

Andrew Taylor-Dawson has been involved with the social justice and environmental movements for over a decade. He works in the NGO sector as well as writing about civil society, campaigning and progressive causes. Twitter: @Andrew_J_Taylor.

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